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Almost 8 million Venezuelans in the world, an opportunity or a problem?

Concern about the fate of these almost 8 million Venezuelan men and women (approximately a quarter of the country's population) motivates this reflection, the fracture that it means for many families and for the country is an unequivocal sign of a Venezuela that changed forever , emotional, cultural, social, psychological, economic, spiritual and structural, and of course, politically.

There is a popular expression in our country, I suppose that in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean it is similar that says: “Mess with everything except the family”, the migration card was used as a weapon in the extreme political confrontation and no one won. This milk has already been spilled, now we have to see how we mitigate the negative effects, how we heal the wounds, how we restore the lost social and emotional fabric.

The question is how to resolve the fracture of families and the country? How to recover the spiritual connection with our brothers and sisters, who are unlikely to return, they against all odds make their way as foreigners, many in migratory situation that is still highly vulnerable from a legal point of view? How can we make them feel that their homeland values ​​them, wants to protect them, wants to help them? How can we make them feel the pride of being Venezuelans? How can we get together? And between helping us?

This is a new socio-economic-cultural phenomenon for a country used to receiving migrants; In less than a decade, Venezuela becomes the second country in the Latin American and Caribbean region, after Mexico, in the number of migrants. It went from 1.236.352 migrants, in February 2018, to 7.987.000, as of June 3, 2024, a growth of 546% in 6 years, data from R4V (acronym for the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants of Venezuela created in 2018, co-led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (OIM)).

The exodus of migrants was an earthquake with aftershocks, starting between 2016-2017, with the epicenter in the middle class and generations 1969-1980). It is a phenomenon that will have to be studied carefully, especially as part of a new way of doing politics of very high cost, in the short, medium and long term.

A press release from BBC World dated May 29, 2024, calls the tension: “What role do immigrants from Latin America play in the good times of Spain's economy?", there they talk about how migrants contributed, despite the low birth rate and the aging of the country, the population of Spain grew by 500.000, in 2023, an increase almost exclusively due to the arrival of foreigners, of these 42.000 are Colombians /Colombian and 27.300 are Venezuelan.

Along the same lines, another BBC World article, “How Venezuelan migrants improve the economy of the countries that receive them, December 29, 2022”, this cites some conclusions about a study carried out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where the positive impacts of Venezuelan migrants in the host countries are estimated, based on a simulation, such as: increase in GDP, increase in employment, increase in consumption, increase in the tax base, etc., as long as adjustments are made in public policies to normalize the situation of these migrants.

In short, migration becomes a priority issue for public policies and strategic planning.

Some questions

Do you have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, neighbors who are in this migrant situation? For what reasons: economic, family, insecurity/violence, lack of services, others? How long have they been abroad? Has their situation been regularized in the host country? Are they employed? What level of education do they have? Did they sell all their properties in the country? Did they migrate with their entire family or on the contrary? Did the family divide? Did only the daughters and sons migrate? Are they on a temporary work permit, tourist visa, as residents, as displaced persons, as refugees?

If you could, would you leave too?

How much has the migration of your relatives affected you?

Do you receive remittances from your relatives? Have you visited them? Did they migrate to countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region, to the US, Spain, Asia or another country in Europe?

Would you agree that the government develops policies that include our fellow citizens outside the country? That they be included in the welfare, development and economic growth plans and programs for the country?

Do you believe that the migration situation in Venezuela could become an opportunity?

Accounts to illustrate

Sources consulted: World Migration Report 2022, IM-2022, from the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM); Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, (R4V-1 y R4V-2); “Report Venezuelans in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru an opportunity for development”, February 2024, World Bank and UNHCR (WB – UNHCR-2024); “Regional contagion effects of the Venezuelan crisis Migratory flows and their impact on Latin America and the Caribbean”, study published in 2022 by the Western Hemisphere Department of the IMF, (IMF-2022).

.-By 2020, there were 281 million migrants in the world, 2 thirds of them migrant workers, 3,6% of the world population (IM-2022). In contrast, by May 2023, there were 7.987.920 Venezuelans dispersed in at least 33 countries, of which 6.764530 are in countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region, that is, 8 out of 10 of Venezuelan migrants. . As of June 2023, 1.183.550 had requested refuge and 300.680 had had their applications recognized. The first five countries hosting these Venezuelans are: Colombia with 2.900.000, Peru with 1.500.000, Brazil with 568.100, the United States with 542.200 and Chile with 532.700. Colombia and Peru concentrate half of the Venezuelan migrants. It is curious, 84% (455.500) of Venezuelan migrants in the United States requested refuge, until June 2023, this country had recognized 24.600 refugee applications.(R4V-1 y R4V-2). Also drawing attention is a category of “Venezuelan Displaced Persons” of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), cited in the aforementioned IOM report, to designate, in 2020, 3.900.000 Venezuelan migrants. . Why and why this special category?

While, for the world, migration seems like a minor situation, 3,6% of the population (in 2020), for Venezuela it represents more than a quarter of its population, possibly most of it productive in work. For Colombia, Peru and Chile, it could also be said that it is a situation to be considered by the State and Government at the policy and budget level. There is a two-way acculturation process, Venezuelans become regionalized in the host countries, and the population of these countries become Venezuelanized. If the trend of increasing migrants from the country continues, Venezuela could displace the Syrian Arab Republic from fifth place in the world ranking of countries of origin of migrants, led by India, Mexico, the Russian Federation, China.

.-From personal reality, with a quick account in the residential and family environment, “By the measure of the small” (Small Data as Lindstrom would say), one could infer how far the phenomenon has reached, how much would it give? Let's take an example, which I know, I invite each of the readers to create their own account as well:

His name is “José”, in his immediate family environment, counting those who are related by blood, up to the second degree, there are a total of 13 relatives outside the country, all of the Millennials and Z generations, with more than 5 years abroad. In their place of residence, an urbanization of middle-class houses, only counting the immediate neighbors - next to and in front - there are 14 migrants, 4 of them elderly mothers and fathers and the remaining 10 from the Millennials and Z, also with more than 6 years outside the country. If this account is repeated with non-zero results, in our friends and family, so be it!

.-How are the Venezuelan migrants?

Reasons for migrating, 25% before leaving Venezuela and 22% while in Chile and Ecuador said due to insecurity/violence, ~68% of migrants in Chile and Ecuador argued for economic reasons. See study by the World Bank and UNHCR (WB – UNHCR-2024) consulted. In the Household surveys carried out in Peru and Colombia, migrants were not asked these questions. Note: these four countries concentrate 67% of Venezuelan migrants.

Did you travel alone or as a family? With family: 65% in Colombia, 57% in Ecuador, 44% in Chile, without data from Peru.

How did they arrive?: To Colombia, 88% by public transportation, 9% on foot, 3% private transportation; to Chile, a little more than half by bus, the rest by plane; There is no data for Peru and Ecuador. (ib.)

Remittances sent by Venezuelan migrants did send: 72% of those in Chile, 24,9% of those in Colombia, 58% of those in Peru. (ib.) Much could be inferred from the socio-economic level of these Venezuelan migrants due to the way in which they arrived and what their current economic comfort is in the host country.

The average age of these Venezuelan migrants, on average, is younger than the local population of the host country. There is a high percentage of Venezuelan migrants between 26 and 35 years old, specifically: 48% in Chile, 43% in Ecuador, 40% in Peru, 36% in Colombia. (ib.) On the other hand, what does this mean for Venezuela? As for its productive force?

Regarding the educational level of the third level of the Venezuelan migrant, it is 65% in Chile, 20% in Colombia, 48% in Ecuador and 32% in Peru. (ib.)

Regarding the employment of Venezuelan migrants in these host countries, they are employed: in Chile 88,6%, in Colombia 62,7%, in Ecuador 89,8%, in Peru 81,2%. (ib.)

.-How much could they contribute to the economy of the host countries? From the study published in 2022 by the Western Hemisphere Department of the IMF, “Regional contagion effects of the Venezuelan crisis Migratory flows and their impact on Latin America and the Caribbean”, some macroeconomic indicators are estimated, based on a model, We will only mention the GDP growth, accumulated between 2017-2030, it could reach 4,4% in Peru, 3,7% in Colombia, 3,5% in Ecuador, 2,6% in Chile, 1,9 % in Panama, 1,1% in the Dominican Republic and 0,6% in Costa Rica and Uruguay.(IMF-2022).

However you want to see it, Venezuelan migrants are a reality, whether this situation is assumed as an opportunity or a problem, a matter of perspective and attitude. The sooner this situation is addressed, the better, to move forward as a country and society.

What to do?

.-Study the impact of Venezuelan migration on the country in the short, medium and long term.

.-Develop plans and policies that address this issue of national importance.

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